B.E.L. Reproductive Health Peer Educators Share

DSCN3255The B.E.L. (Board of Educated Ladies) Reproductive Health Peer Educators shared medically accurate information with family and friends on Wednesday night, December 18.

The girls presented information and research on how to properly fit a bra; skin care for adolescents; STI/STD’s; menstruation; teen pregnancy; breast self exams; contraception; and abstinence.

The girls, some in their first year of B.E.L. and others in their second year of the program (the girls with the slick blue satin jackets!), presented the information to DSCN3246parents, community health partners, and members of the Girls Inc. Board.

Mychael Shields, a 2nd year B.E.L. “veteran” presented a PowerPoint presentation about STD’s and STI’s.  She warned the audience “some of these images are graphic.” She spoke about how the girls learned about contraception options and which options help protect against STD’s/STI’s. After describing the options for girls who choose to become sexually active, she added, “Abstinence is the one form of contraception that is 100% effective and has no side effects.” She acknowledged that abstinence is the method “preferred” by Girls Inc., but that the staff at Girls Inc. want the girls to be informed and safe if they choose to become sexually active.

The girls also displayed anatomically correct models used as part of the B.E.L. educational experience. After one of the presentations using a penis demonstration model, one of the moms stated, “I had no idea my daughter even knew what a penis looked like. I guess this opens up the opportunity for us to have some conversations now.”  At Girls Inc. of Omaha, parents are considered girls’ first and best teachers. “If we can open the door to some parent-daughter conversations, then we are accomplishing something important,”stated Ms. CT Green, Director of Health Access at Girls Inc.

One mom said, “This makes me feel a little uncomfortable.” Ms. CT replied, “Well it doesn’t make us uncomfortable at all. At Girls Inc., the girls know we can talk about anything.” As Ms. CT described how she wanted the girls to have all the information they need to make informed decisions about relationships, their bodies, and their health, parents around the room were nodding in agreement.

The second cohort of B.E.L. girls are looking forward to receiving their own jackets very soon which will identify them as Peer Educators at Girls Inc. and in the community.

E-mail from Ms. Kainette

Ms. Kainette chaperoned four girls on a trip to Indianapolis to participate in Girls InCharge, a 3-day summer camp experience to learn about the working world, college life, and women entrepreneur role models. She sent this e-mail back to Ms. Roberta:

EmpressIn one of the photos, Empress Cozart is standing with Charlie Wagner, Market Manager at Sam’s Club in Indiana. Sam’s was the sponsor of the Girls InCharge Summit. He shared a story about his experience at the networking workshop during his speech. He told a story about how he decided to sit at a table with a group of girls to see if anyone would talk to him. He is a big guy and sort of intimidating at first glance; he towered over all the participants. He said to his surprise that Empress, a Girls Inc. of Omaha member, introduced herself by saying “Hi! My name is Empress,” and then he looked at her name badge and it said “My name is Empress, and I’m confident in everything I do!

He went on to share how impressed he was with her overall self-confidence and her ability to hold a conversation and share openly about her experiences at Girls Inc. and on a personal level. Girls Inc. of Omaha made quite the impression. Anne Hitchner, Regional Membership Director, Great Lakes Region Sam Club visited with me after the luncheon and told me how proud I should be of our girls and ho highly they spoke of not only me (lol) but also their experiences at Girls Inc. One of the girls shared “how she might be doing something bad and that Girls Inc. saved her.” Other members talked about all of the different opportunities they had been given as members to try something different or learn something new that they never would have experienced were it not for Girls Inc. Yet others shared how Girls Inc. has taught them how to be confident and that it’s okay to be yourself and that they [staff] really care about us.

I think I have an eye for recognizing leadership and in giving… chances until a girl has that “ah hah” moment where they begin to see the same leadership qualities in themselves that I do.

I am as thankful and proud of the girls as if they were my own – and in a sense – they are, and I want to thank you for this experience and opportunity to see them shine!Omaha Girls InCharge web

Alum Graduates from UNO with Business Degree

Alum Kelsey sent us a graduation photo and the nicest thank you note:

What makes life’s successes so great is when you have a wonderful group of people supporting you along the way.  I would like to truly thank you, your team, and everyone involved for your support personally as a girl growing into a young woman and as a student.  This past December I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in Business Administration.  The beauty of this story is that I had people like you (Girls Inc.) that have been empowering me to be STRONG, SMART & BOLD since the age of seven.  Thank you Girls Inc. for your contribution to my life that not only impacted me while I was a member, but also now and in the future.  Thank you Girls Inc. for all you do for young girls all over the world.  We appreciate you!

Love,

Kelsey D. Wright

A Mentor’s Experience

 

 

Well over a year ago I had expressed an interest in the mentoring program at Girls’ Inc., but this was prior to Megan Oberymeyer’s wonderful coordination of the group. So I must admit I was a little hesitant to get involved when Meghan contacted me last fall–until I had a very warm and open conversation with her. I attended an orientation of sorts with her last October and she did her magic and matched me with a wonderful 14-year-old girl, Amina Abdullahi (it only took me a few weeks to pronounce this correctly), who came to the United States with her family from Kenya when she was 7 years old.

She is in the 8th grade at Bryan Middle School and has 6 brothers and sisters. She loves art and tacos. This is basically the information I had before meeting her in late November. Meghan set a meeting up with Amina, her, and myself. I had never been to the South annex of Girls’ Inc. before so I was actually a bit nervous about the whole thing but Amina is such a warm and friendly young lady that it went “swimmingly”.

The first weekend in December the local “Hot Shops” artist coop has an open house; so remembering Amina likes art, I asked her to go with a friend and me. It was interesting to see what some of the current local trends are with some of the artists and I think Amina enjoyed it.

In an effort to keep communication going, I would call her a couple of times a week to see how she was doing. She talked a lot about her art classes in school. They were studying Georgia O’Keefe and she was very interested in the various aspects involved in the flowers. I was impressed with her art teacher’s assignment for the students to draw all the different parts of the flowers, before drawing the entire thing. Amina enjoyed this too.

After the holiday, Amina and I went down to Lauritzen Gardens to see the poinsettia display, indoor train display, and have lunch. I took her a book on Georgia O’Keefe that had been my mom’s. At the same time, she presented me with one of her beautiful drawings of a large flower—much like the O’Keefe style. I was so terribly touched. So much so, that I told her I am working on having it framed. I learned something I should have known all along, and that is that Amina is Muslim and does not eat pork (Duh!). Somehow this fact slipped my mind so I was newly informed when she turned down a ham sandwich. (My ignorance at some of the cultural differences amazes me.)

After seeing the movie, “Les Miserables,” I thought it would be a great movie to take Amina to so we had coffee/cupcakes at Jones St. and went to the movie at Aksarben. Halfway through the movie, I was worried that a 14 year old might be a little bored with it, but at the end she said she loved it. A few weeks later, Amina, her sister, and I went to the opening weekend at Film Streams of “Chasing Ice,” a documentary about global warming and the frightening meltdown of the glaciers. Both of us were blown away by the photography, and I was interested in exposing her to the global warming issues. I was pleased to learn they have been talking about it in their science classes.

We both enjoyed going to the Mentor/Mentee dinner at Olive Garden, compliments of Girls’ Inc. I picked Amina up early and brought her to my house (not far from Olive Garden) to hang out a little bit and yak. I had also gotten an artist’s toolbox and filled it with some odds and ends that an artist friend of mine had suggested because Amina had talked about doing some drawing at Girls’ Inc. and I would like to encourage her to continue to embrace her talent.

She was so thrilled. Also, I wanted her to have the chance to meet my two dogs, which are such an important part of our family but boy, did I learn another cultural difference! Amina can’t touch dogs because they view them a lot like pigs—it is not totally clear to me, but I respected this and kept the dogs outside.

All in all, I have enjoyed getting to know Amina better. I have two children entering adulthood so at 58 years of age, I was not sure what I could really offer but I have quickly learned how much we both can teach one another.

Amina is a very outgoing, talkative, at ease young lady. I have so little knowledge or understanding of her culture but I try and be an encouraging ear and support. We talk a lot about her family, her interests, which are so different than mine—not in a bad way, just different. (I had no idea there were entire Bollywood and Nollywood movies and actors.)

Amina has begun calling me regularly to share things from school (she made honor roll!, and is participating in an art show competition at school). She even called me after a weekend I was out of town just to say she had missed me, which about blew me away. I look forward to the new experiences ahead.